This server contains information on the British Columbia Political Studies Association (BCPSA) and its activities. The current BCPSA president is Alexander Netherton (Alexander.Netherton@viu.ca) of the Department of Political Studies at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC.

The Recline of Party: Armchair Democracy and the Reform Party of Canada

by Darin Barney (Toronto) and David Laycock (SFU)
for the British Columbia Political Studies Association Conference Simon Fraser University Burnaby, British Columbia May 5-6, 1995

  	If one were asked to go spelunking around the dim caverns of
neology to  come up with a satisfactory moniker for the type of
political energy currently  driving modern liberal democracies, one
could do worse than to settle for  "centrifugalism". Instead of
imploding due to the objective contradictions of their  economic
systems, these states have had to contend with an explosion of
subjectivity -- a fecund ecology of highly politicized identity-bearers
has developed,  and they appear bent on asserting their diversity in
the face of outmoded centripetal  institutions designed to falsely
homogenize or assimilate their experiences, needs  and priorities. For
the most part, the owners of these newly invigorated
consciousnesses see the political infrastructure of liberal democracy
as a barrier to  their fulfillment that is every bit as formidable as the
economic relations of liberal  capitalism. This impression has
manifested itself in escalating challenges to the  legitimacy of
traditional practices of representative democracy which, depending
on  the ideological concerns of the observer, are either decried as
symptomatic of  society's "ungovernability", or celebrated as a
blossoming of healthy pluralism. 

Canada has not been immune to
these developments. The explicit  recognition in the 1982 Charter of
Rights and Freedoms of aboriginal, multicultural,  female and
disabled citizens helped to congeal these as distinct and legitimate
political identities  in Canada.1 Additionally, recent years have
witnessed the  increasing activism of various religious,
environmental, and gay rights groups who,  together with the
aforementioned "Charter Canadians", have grown increasingly
frustrated with the limitations of a political discourse constructed
exclusively upon  the brokerage of regional and linguistic interests.
This debate crystallized around the  popular rejection of the Meech
Lake Accord in 1990, and was evident in subsequent  critical public
commentary on the deficiencies of Canadian representative and
parliamentary democracy.2 It quickly became evident that the
traditional party  system was an insufficient collector or conduit for
the burgeoning democratic  aspirations of a heterogeneous citizenry
not content to see their diverse interests  brokered away to the
margins of political consideration. 

This recent flurry of
identity-based group politics, with its implicit rejection of  traditional
representative institutions, would appear to vindicate the
observation  made by John Meisel over a decade ago, that an increase
in the role of organized  groups in the processes of interest
articulation was leading to a decline in the  aggregative capacity of
traditional brokerage parties in Canada.3 Indeed, the idea that
organized interest groups are a democratic threat of one sort or
another has since  appeared as a common focus of two otherwise
divergent offspring of the malaise  afflicting the Canadian party
system: the recent Royal Commission on Electoral  Reform and Party
Financing (RCERPF) and the Reform Party of Canada. While the
RCERPF's concern appears to be that democracy in Canada suffers as
organized  interest groups assume, but ultimately fail to fulfil, the
role and functions of  traditional political parties, Reform's approach
to the "problem" of "special  interests" is quite different. In this
paper, I will use the example of its recent forays  into the world of
electronic plebiscitarianism to argue that the Reform party's brand
of populism is designed specifically to combat the threat organized
interests pose to  the unfettered free market distribution of political
and economic values, rather than  as a democratic corrective to the
rise of pluralism and the decline of parties. By  contrasting it with
the RCERPF in the context of the decline of party thesis, I intend  to
show that Reform's use of these techniques represents neither a
serious desire to  alleviate public alienation from the representative
system, nor a sincere response to  citizens demanding increased
opportunities for meaningful democratic  participation. Instead, I will
argue that Reform's adoption of teledemocracy is an  essentially
cynical attempt to capitalize on the present climate of democratic
unease,  as a means of legitimizing the party's real goal of contracting
the public sphere of  political decision-making in Canada.

The Decline of Party

In a provocative essay written in 1979, John
Meisel argued that while  Canadian political parties still performed
the classic structural roles of providing a  framework for voting and
recruiting political leaders, their ability to function as  centers of
governmental organization and policy formation was on the wane.4
In  particular, Canadian parties were declining in terms of their
capacity to act as  effective vehicles for the integration, mobilization
and aggregation of political  interests. As a result, Meisel observed, "
... an increasing number of Canadians have  sought to participate in
politics and public life outside the framework of parties."5
Among the reasons listed by Meisel for this decline were the
development  of sophisticated electronic media and polling
techniques, the burgeoning complexity  of the modern state, and the
dominance of the national political agenda by executive  federalism
and major economic actors. But well before the explosion of group
identities that would follow the adoption of Charter in 1982, Meisel
identified  "pluralism and the rise of interest group politics" as a
major factor contributing to  the growing ineffectiveness of
brokerage parties.6 At this time, Meisel referred  vaguely to
unidentified "vested interests" and "lobby groups", but in a 1991
addendum to his original essay, citizens of the post-Charter "new
Canada" --  women, ethnic Canadians, aboriginal peoples -- and the
"non-party organizations"  that represent them were explicitly
referred to as the authors of a serious challenge  to the efficacy of
the country's traditional democratic party structure.7

Reforming Canada's Parties

Over ten years after the appearance of
his original essay, Meisel's predictions  regarding public
disenchantment with political parties in Canada have seemingly
been borne out. According to the RCERPF: "Canadian political parties
are held in  low public esteem, and ... their standing has declined
steadily over the past decade."8  The RCERPF reported that between
1979 and 1989, the percentage of Canadians who  expressed "a great
deal" of confidence in political parties fell from 30 to 18, while the
number of those expressing "very little" confidence in these
institutions grew from  22 to 33 per cent.9 Massive numbers of
citizens agreed that political parties in  Canada engage in excessive
"squabbling" (81%), confuse issues rather than  illuminate them
(87%), and inappropriately constrain the activity of individual MPs
(78%).10 Most seriously, 79 per cent of those surveyed felt that once
elected to  Parliament, party politicians generally "lose touch" with
the people they represent --  an increase of 14 per cent from a
decade earlier.11 

The corollary of the declining fortunes of
parties has been a surge in support  for alternative, non-elite driven
democratic practices. The research studies  accompanying the RCERPF
showed that the vast majority of those surveyed trust  "ordinary
people" more than "experts and intellectuals" (65%), and consider a
devolution of decision-making power to "people at the grassroots" to
be a plausible  and constructive alternative to party democracy
(74%).12 In what can only be  regarded as a stunning distillation of
this sentiment, the RCERPF found that a full  26 per cent of Canadians
actually believe that "true democracy" could be better  achieved in
the absence of political parties.13 At a minimum, the report of the
commission warns that, "Canadians would like greater control over
their  representatives and over public policies, especially between
elections."14  	In attempting to isolate the source of these
symptoms, the RCERPF points to  institutional inertia within the party
system itself, insofar as it has been unable to  manufacture
significant opportunities for meaningful participation by individuals
whose representational needs extend beyond the capacity of
traditionally-oriented  parties.15 When it comes to issues other than
leadership and election campaigns,  Canadian brokerage parties are
failing both as convincing vehicles of interest  aggregation and
mobilization, and as effective managers of collective political
action.16 Interestingly, this disaffection with parties has not
necessarily translated  into a flight from political involvement
altogether: the RCERPF reports that while  the number of people
joining political parties is indeed dwindling, overall levels of
"political voluntarism and activism" remain high.17 How is this
activism  manifesting itself, if not in partisan attachments? In the
absence of opportunities for  effective democratic participation under
the auspices of brokerage parties, "ordinary  citizens" are seeking to
satisfy their political aspirations through what the RCERPF  has called
"specialized interest groups".18 These groups, which encompass those
concerned with "environmental causes, [or] the rights of women and
minority  groups", are characterized by the commission as "single-
issue organizations with the  sole purpose of promoting a specific
cause".19 

Despite their apparent vitality, the RCERPF was not
convinced that the  proliferation of organized interest groups in the
political arena is necessarily an  indicator of a healthy Canadian
democracy. While it conceded that such groups excel  in articulating
interests and mobilizing political energy, the commission felt that
they lack some of the more complex skills required to fulfill the
aggregative role  traditionally played by mass or brokerage parties.
In focussing on single-issues,  "specialized" interest groups are
charged with representing "at best a limited  spectrum of public
opinion."20 Furthermore, the RCERPF contends that such
organizations neglect the need to "accommodate their goals with
competing  interests", and goes so far as to suggest that they are
even "largely unconcerned with  balancing competing objectives
within the organization" (emphasis added).21 Thus,  in the estimation
of the RCERPF, the decline of brokerage parties as aggregative
institutions has led to a flight towards circumscribed political
organizations that are  structurally disinclined to assimilate the "big
picture" into their ideological agendas.

The RCERPF prescribed a
number of measures intended to cure the ailments  plaguing
Canadian democracy, the details of which fall outside the focus of this
discussion. However, it is useful to note that the aim which directed
the  commission's recommendations was the "strengthening [of]
political parties as  primary political organizations."22 Most of the
proposed reforms regarding parties  center around enhancing their
recruitment, education and policy development  functions, as well as
encouraging them to nurture broader and more extensive  partisan
networks.23 The hope of the commission is that traditional parties
can be  democratized to the extent that politically invigorated
citizens will choose them  over the more narrow organizations that
have fragmented the Canadian polity. In  the rhetoric of the authors
of the commission's final report: " ... the continued  health of
Canadian democracy requires that people in Canada become more
involved in political life through political parties."24  

Canada's Reform Party and Teledemocracy

The Reform Party of
Canada appears to have arisen in response to many of  the same
concerns that motivated the investigations of the RCERPF. Like the
commissioners, Reformers recognize that a growing number of
"ordinary  Canadians" are choosing to opt out of participation in the
representative system,  and point to organized interests and failing
brokerage parties as the cause of this  disaffection. In Reform's view,
the Canadian polity is currently suffering under the  yoke of a
"tyranny of the minorities" wherein "special interest groups ... get
everything they want to the detriment of the people paying the
bills."25 These so- called special interest groups are aided in their
capture of the public purse by "old- line politicians" who "don't care
what their voters think" -- members of brokerage  parties beholden
to opinion experts, lobbyists and party whips -- and so misrepresent
their constituents.26 In response to this situation, Reform proposes
to usher in "a  type of government that more accurately reflects the
will of the people,"27 through  the use of "more efficient and less
expensive" electronic voting and  communications technology.28 In
short, Reform's response to the challenge  organized interests pose
for brokerage parties has not been to recommend a  restructuring of
the latter to accommodate people attracted by the former, as
suggested by the RCERPF. Instead, the Reform party portrays these
actors as  irretrievably undemocratic, and offers to eliminate both of
them from the political  calculus by using technology to make direct
appeals to "ordinary Canadians".

This response begs a number of
questions. One set of questions asks whether  interest group activity
is actually the danger to democracy that it is portrayed as,  whether
increased direct participation by unaffiliated citizens is the
appropriate  tactic to offset this danger, and whether electronic
technology can be used to enhance  the democratic character of this
process. However, in order to engage the Reform  position on these
important issues, it is necessary first to determine if  the party's
concern for democracy is sincere. Does the Reform party's rhetorical
commitment to  an increase in the quantity of participation include a
desire to increase the quality of  democratic life in Canada? Is the
championing of greater participation by private  citizens pursuant to
the establishment of a reinvigorated democratic civic and  political
culture in Canada, or is it oriented towards the achievement of
another set  of ideological goals? A brief look at Reform's brand of
teledemocracy in practice  should help to answer these questions.

Referendum '94 & Canada Speaks

In mid June of 1994, North
Vancouver Reform party MP Ted White, in  cooperation with
Maritime Telephone and Telecommunications Technologies of  Nova
Scotia (MT&T), sponsored Referendum '94, a telephone referendum
on  proposed changes to Canada's Young Offenders Act (YOA).29 The
impetus for this  exercise was two-fold. First, Mr. White was seeking
to gauge his constituent's  opinions on the current state of trial and
sentencing practices for youth criminals,  with the intent of drafting
and tabling a Private Member's Bill in the House of  Commons,
proposing amendments to the YOA which would reflect these
opinions.  However, shortly before Referendum '94 was to take place,
federal Minister of  Justice Allan Rock tabled his own set of
amendments to the YOA, prompting Mr.  White to suggest that his
results would be used " ... to confirm the approach in Mr.  Rock's Bill,
or to suggest amendments to the Bill during committee stage in
Parliament."30 Secondly, the telephone poll in North Vancouver was
intended to  represent the Reform party's first attempt to, "show all
of Canada how the  occasional use of electronic referenda can ensure
that MP's are much more  responsive to the wishes of the people
they represent."31 Calling this the "first ever  electronic
referendum," and an opportunity for his constituents to, "show the
world  how democracy can be improved using the very latest
technology," Mr. White  presented Referendum '94 as an example of,
"government with due regard to the  views of the majority. In other
words, true democracy."32 

This claim is based on the contention
that Referendum '94 was an exercise  carried out in observance of
the principle of "universal suffrage", rather than  merely a poll of
randomly selected opinions.33 Each registered voter in Mr. White's
North Vancouver riding was mailed a confidential, randomly-
generated Personal  Identification Number (PIN) which granted them
a single access to MT&T's  computerized vote counting system.
Constituents intending to vote were asked to  call a 1-900 number,
enter their PIN, and answer "yes" or "no" to a series of  questions
pertaining to proposed changes to the YOA, all via the keypad of
their  touch-tone telephone.34 Students in the riding were issued a
special set of PINs so  that their votes could be tabulated separately
from the general electorate. A similar  arrangement was made for
federal members of parliament, who were also  encouraged to
register their opinion. Finally, citizens across the country were able
to  cast their votes in a separately counted opinion poll which used
the same questions  but a different telephone number; no PINs were
required for participation in this  part of the exercise, meaning that
people with a particular interest in the outcome of  the poll could,
conceivably, vote as often as they pleased. The average duration of
the voting process was approximately two minutes, and participants
were  responsible for the two dollar cost of this telephone time.35 

Public response to the telephone poll was less than
overwhelming in terms of  numbers participating, and predictable in
terms of results (see Appendix A). Voters  were asked three
questions: should the minimum age at which a charge could be  laid
under the YOA be reduced from 12 to 10 years of age?; should young
offenders  charged with "serious" crimes be automatically
transferred to adult court?; and,  finally, should violent or repeat
offenders be subject to harsher sentences under the  YOA? Of the 70
000 registered voters in North Vancouver, approximately 4600 --
roughly 6% -- took part in the referendum.36 A strong majority of
voters (67%)  expressed agreement with the proposal in Question 1 to
reduce the minimum age  for charges under the YOA to ten-years of
age. It should be noted that a significant  number of callers to the
Referendum Help Line indicated that they voted "no" to  this
question because they felt the minimum age should either be lower
than ten, or  eliminated altogether. Support among registered voters
for the amendments  proposed in Questions 2 and 3 -- automatic
transfer to adult court for serious crimes  and increased sentences
for repeat violent offenders -- was a staggering 97% and 99%
respectively. 

Results for the other three categories of
respondents generally mimicked  those of registered North
Vancouver voters, both in terms of low participation rates  and
preferences. The nation-wide poll elicited approximately 2200
responses, while   merely 44 of a possible 700 North Vancouver
student voters, and only 16 federal  MPs participated in the televote.
Despite these small numbers, the distribution of  opinions across all
categories of voters was relatively consistent with those indicated
by Mr. White's constituents. One exception to this general rule was
the MP response  to Question 1, which produced a much higher
number of "yes" votes (94%) than any  other category of participants.
Clearly, turnout was much lower than expected in all  categories of
voters. Mr. White attributed the low rate of participation to a
number  of factors, including a lack of media attention due to
competition with the Stanley  Cup riots in Vancouver and Father's
Day. According to Mr. White: "The most  commonly given reason for
not voting was that the Government had already  announced
amendments and that those amendments would be rammed through
Parliament so there was no point in voting."37 Nevertheless, Mr.
White praised  those who did participate for being "pioneers," and
indicated that he was confident  he had received a clear enough
indication of his constituent's feelings on this issue  to act as
directed.38

	In October of 1994, the Reform party embarked on an even
more ambitious  experiment, sponsoring an exercise billed as,
"Canada's first, live, nationally- televised, interactive Electronic Town
Hall meeting."39 Similar to the North  Vancouver referendum,
Canada Speaks served two purposes for the Reform Party.  On one
level, this combined television program and telephone poll provided
the  Reform party with an opportunity to both publicize and elicit
feedback on its plans  to "reconstruct our federal system and rebuild
the principles by which we govern  ourselves."40 On a second level,
this was yet another occasion for the Reform party  to enlist the aid
of sophisticated communications technologies in fulfilling its
rhetorical commitment to increased citizen participation in major
policy decisions.  Accordingly, Canada Speaks was portrayed as a
"citizen participation project"  designed to facilitate "consultation
between elections", affording "a unique and  historic opportunity for
you to participate in this electronic town hall meeting from  the
comfort of your own living room."41 

The Canada Speaks exercise
was organized as a week long national telephone  poll, culminating in
a panel discussion held in Fort Calgary on October 3, 1994,  televised
live by approximately two-thirds of Canada's cable networks.42 In
the  week prior to the telecast, for an average cost of two dollars,
anyone with access to a  touch-tone phone could call Reform's 1-900
line and offer their opinion on three  questions regarding the future
shape of Canada's federal system. First, callers were  asked to
respond with a "yes" or "no" to the question of whether "Canada [has]
reached a point in its history when the issue of national unity must
be resolved  once and for all." Next, callers were asked to choose
which of the following four  courses of action they thought "best for
Canada": "complete separation of Quebec  from Canada"; "a special
association between Canada and an independent Quebec";  "changing
the federal system for the entire country"; or "continuing the present
federal system". Finally, respondents were presented with two
options as to "who  should set the framework for Canada's future?":
"the Canadian people through a  bottom-up process"; or
"governments and political leaders".

The telecast, dubbed an
"electronic town hall meeting" by its organizers, gave  viewers the
opportunity to call in their response to these questions one at a time,
after the issues had been discussed by participants in the televised
forum. Panelists  leading discussion included Reform Party leader
Preston Manning -- hailed as "the  uncontested parliamentary pace-
setter in the race to the brave new world"43 -- a  handful of political
scientists and economists, a constitutional adviser, an opinion
researcher, and a former adviser to the Bloc Quebecois. In addition to
these experts,  viewers at home and the 140 audience members in
studio were treated to recorded  testimonials from a number of
prominent members of the country's political and  media elite.44 The
telephone lines remained open for a short time after the forum,  for
those who wished to register their opinions in a single call after
having seen the  entire telecast.

Following the exercise, Reform
party leader Preston Manning indicated that  he was "encouraged by
the response".45 Mr. Manning's satisfaction was hardly  surprising,
given that the overwhelming majority of callers registered opinions
which confirmed policy positions already held by the Reform Party.
Of the 9406  "total registered responses", 92% favoured resolving the
national unity issue "once  and for all", and 58% echoed the Reform
party's preference to do so via a  comprehensive overhaul of the
entire federal system. The "complete separation" of  Quebec was
advocated by 29% of callers, 10% were inclined to accept the status
quo  and, most gratifying for the Reform party, only 3% were
prepared to accept special  status for Quebec. Similarly, in a
reflection of Reform's populist rhetoric, 92% of the  responses to
Question 3 indicated that this overhaul should be directed by "the
Canadian people through a bottom-up process", rather than by
"Governments and  political leaders" (see Appendix B). 	Aside from
their predictability, by far the most interesting aspect of the results
of the Canada Speaks televote was the manner in which they were
portrayed to and  by the mass media. Numerous print and broadcast
media took for granted that 9406  "total registered responses" meant
that "about 10 000 Canadians reached out and  touched Preston
Manning's national unity telethon."46 Actually, a closer look at the
numbers would indicate that this is far from the case. Firstly, PINs
limiting  participants to a single vote were not distributed before the
poll, and this means that  interested parties could potentially have
voted several times in an attempt to  pervert the results. But even
more compromising is the fact that each answer to any  of the three
questions was counted as a distinct "caller". During the forum
telecast,  viewers were asked to respond to the questions in three
separate telephone calls,  and it is conceivable (though unlikely) that
each response during this period was  registered by a different
person. However, in the week before the television  broadcast, and in
the hours following it, when the bulk of responses were registered
(70%), callers likely addressed all three questions in a single call.
Nevertheless, each  answer to every question during this time was
also counted by the Reform party and  the mass media as coming
from a distinct respondent. Furthermore, a randomly  selected
control group was solicited in advance to participate in the exercise
as a  measure of the statistical validity of the tele-poll's self-selected
sample population.  This control group was also included in the total
number of participants, again with  each response to every question
being tallied as a distinct caller (which is probably  even less likely
in the case of the control group than in the general sample). The
result of these unorthodox calculations was a vastly inflated
perception of the level  of public participation in Canada Speaks. As it
stands, it is statistically impossible to  make an accurate
determination of how many people actually participated in this
exercise.47 

The Real World of Reform's Teledemocracy 

The Reform party  is
not unique in attempting to harness the formidable  potential of
communications technology to political participation in one form or
another.48 However, most of the experiments with teledemocracy
conducted to date  have been suspect in terms of the quality of
democracy involved, and similar  questions can be raised about the
Reform party's performance thus far.49 Elsewhere,  I have detailed
the ways in which Reform's attempts at pushbutton populism have
fallen well short of the technical requirements of a legitimate
exercise in democratic  decision-making.50 On the most basic level, it
would be difficult to sustain an  argument that labelled as
"democratic" an exercise requiring citizens to pay a fee to
participate, in which people could vote as often as they liked, and
which took the  opinions of a self-selected sample as representative
of some greater constituency. On  a deeper level, none of the Reform
televotes to date have involved serious attempts  to encourage
citizens to set their own democratic agendas or to consider the full
range of options and implications pertaining to any particular policy
issue. Instead,  the subjects of the party's televotes and electronic
town halls have reflected  Reform's own preoccupations, and have
featured questions skillfully crafted to  produce results
complimentary to existing party policy on the issues under
consideration. Most serious from a technical standpoint, the Reform
party has failed  to either engage in concerted campaigns to inform
voters thoroughly prior to  soliciting their opinion, or to institute
sustainable mechanisms for ongoing  participation, both of which are
integral elements of legitimate democratic decision- making. 	The
Reform party's low regard for the qualitative requirements of sound
democratic practice is evident in the cavalier manner in which it
manipulates the  actual results of its tele-populist schemes. The
evidence suggests that the Reform  party is relatively unconcerned
with either the inadequacy of these exercises as  reliable and
accurate opinion gathering devices, or even the veracious portrayal
of  the responses they do receive. In each of the cases under scrutiny
here, the Reform  party has been quick to point out that it is aware
that the process involved is not  "scientific", and that the resulting
sample is not  "statistically valid" as a  representation of opinion at
large.51 Nonetheless, Reform promises to act on the  basis of these
responses, which can only be construed as an indication that they
actually do not care whether they are proceeding according to the
wishes of the  majority of Canadians or not, and that their interest in
conducting these exercises  lies elsewhere.

 	This was made clear in
the case of Referendum '94. Prior to the televote MP  Ted White
insisted that at least 50% of the 70 000 registered voters in his North
Vancouver riding would have to participate before he could be
confident of having  received a decisive direction from his
constituents.52 Despite this seemingly firm  threshold, when less
than 10% of voters actually registered opinions, Mr. White had
somehow, "come to feel comfortable with the results," and decided to
act upon  them anyway.53 Once again, a commitment to adhere only
to a thorough expression  of citizen preferences was clearly not a
priority of this exercise. Similarly, a studied  disinterest in
communicating an accurate portrayal of public opinion may also
account for the Reform party's spectacular inflation of the actual rate
of participation  in the Canada Speaks televote.54 Apparently,
creating the illusion that 10 000 people  were involved in this
exercise was more important to the Reform party than either  a
truthful account of the real numbers, or an accurate estimation of
Canadian  opinions about national unity and federalism.

Why might
this be the case? Why would a party supposedly committed to the
unmediated representation of majority opinion solicit and depict it so
carelessly?  The answer is that accurate representations of public
opinion as expressed in  meaningful democratic processes are not the
goal motivating the Reform party's use  of teledemocratic
technologies. Instead, it is the desire to construct a democratic
discourse conducive to the realization of the rest of Reform's
ideological agenda that  directs these applications. Before making a
case for how the technological exercises  discussed here were
configured to achieve this, a brief review of the main elements  of
Reform's ideological programme is necessary.

In his recent
attempt to unravel the populist rhetoric of the Reform Party of
Canada, David Laycock offers the following insightful distillation: " ...
the major  thrust of the Reform party project is to redefine Canadian
public	life by substantially  contracting political -- and often
democratic -- modes of decision-making in policy  spheres that deal
with distributional issues."55 According to Laycock, at Reform's
ideological core is a standard neo-conservative commitment to the
protection of the  "natural" market distribution of economic, political
and social values. Any attempt  by the state to use re-distributive
policy instruments in order to redress substantive  inequalities is
considered an illegitimate intrusion into the market, the costs of
which are disproportionately borne by individual property-holders
through the  imposition of confiscatory taxation regimes. The
primary beneficiaries of this  unnatural desire to give substance to
liberalism's promise of formal-legal equality  are the "special
interests" and the "new class" of bureaucrats who are their patrons.
In the eyes of Reformers, "a special interest is seen as any group that
requests  publicly provided benefits that require governments to
skew market distributions of  resources."56 

The "new class" is
defined as, "a self-perpetuating bureaucratic class in  government ...
whose employment requires expansion of programmes to meet the
demands of special interests."57 Standing opposed to this elite
symbiosis of  organized interests demanding entitlements and the
bureaucrats who provide them  are "the people" who pay for them,
defined basically as all those "ordinary  Canadians" who are members
neither of the new class, nor the special interests.58  The
comparative policy neglect suffered by ordinary Canadians can be
attributed, in  Reform's estimation, to the capture of old-line
brokerage parties by the new class to  the extent that they have
become merely "instruments of the special interests".  Conversely,
the Reform party envisions itself as the "representative of the
unrepresented", the champion of the silent majority in the face of a
tyranny of the  minorities.59 	Ironically, it is at this point that
the Reform party's special interest in  contracting the public sphere
of democratic decision-making becomes apparent.  Convinced that
traditional, pluralist mechanisms of decision and policy making are
dominated by special interests intent on hobbling the free market
allocation of social  and economic goods, the Reform party sees no
choice but to substantially shrink the  political arena in which these
interests operate. This end-run around the  mediating/meddling
influence of organized interest groups, public institutions,  social
agencies and advocates is accomplished by simply eliminating them
from the  policy process, through direct appeals to "the people" for
direction or decisions.  Liberated from the distorting influence of
entitlement-seeking, organized interests  and the bureaucrats
beholden to them, "ordinary Canadians" can express their true
preferences as consumer-voters in a free market of political and
economic options.  In this scenario, concerns that were once public,
collective and political are properly  converted into isolated,
individual, private choices, and in the process an entire  layer of
relations between civil society and the state spontaneously
vanishes.60 

For Reform, this configuration relieves the, "
'democratic excess' [that]  results from too many people taking the
promises of liberal egalitarianism  seriously."61 Traditional liberal
pluralism encourages an institutional environment  wherein, "too
many groups with inflated senses of their own disadvantage make
too many claims for state support," resulting in rampant social
spending, huge  deficits, burgeoning debt-loads and escalating
taxes.62 By marginalizing special  interests and their benefactors,
and replacing them with "the people" in the policy  process, Reform
hopes to halt the scourge of inappropriate interventions in the
market, and to alleviate the strain felt by the propertied and
entrepreneurial classes  who unfairly bear the burdens of this
juggernaut. It is not surprising, in a time of  economic insecurity and
widespread alienation, that such a vision would hold great  appeal
not only to "the people" it serves, but also to a wider range of private
citizens  who harbour a legitimate sense of being underrepresented
in the decisions which  most closely affect their lives.63 However, it
should be stressed that the Reform  party's advocacy of more direct
forms of interest representation do not spring from a  serious desire
to bolster the quality of democratic political life in Canada. Instead,
Reform's appeals "the people" are merely instrumental to their
broader goal of  eliminating "the public", by marginalizing organized
interests, state bodies and  representative structures in the policy
process, in the interests of enabling the  unfettered procession of
private initiative and accumulation. By reducing citizens in
communities to individual consumers in markets, Reform's promotion
of direct  democracy emerges as little more than one element in a
total strategy for the  systematic depoliticization and privatization of
public life.

By now, the reason for Reform's attraction to these
technologies should be  clear: teledemocracy as practised by the
Reform party is perfectly suited to  accomplish exactly the
contraction of the public sphere they so covet. Generally  speaking,
teledemocratic endeavors organized on the plebiscitarian model have
had  as their explicit purpose the redress of perceived deficiencies in
the representative  system, and the exclusion of special interest
groups from the decision-making  process.64 Likewise, one of the
key selling features of MT&T's teledemocracy  services package is
that, "it has the capability of removing special interest groups."65
There is little doubt that this coincidence of the technology's
strengths and one of  the key points in Reform's ideological agenda
accounts for the party's unqualified  embrace of teledemocracy. The
party goes so far as to publicly affirm this goal prior  to every
televote it conducts, and when asked about his choice of this
technological  configuration, MP Ted White was quick to confirm that
its primary appeal was that,  "It is going to break down special
interests."66 It does so by removing the practical  need for any type
of group or institutional mediation in the formation and  articulation
of individual preferences.

Clearly, the Reform party could not have
asked for a sharper tool with which  to lobotomize the democratic
process. By providing a medium for individual voters  to express
established private choices directly from the isolation of their living
room  armchairs, the execution of teledemocracy according to
plebiscitarian priorities  effectively eliminates the social processes
and political institutions which moderate  particular interests in light
of the needs of the community as a whole.67 This  apparent
shortcoming is a strength in Reform's view, because these institutions
and  processes are fertile breeding grounds for exactly those special
interest group claims  that direct the state beyond its proper role as
a protector of property and minimalist  enforcer of market freedom.
Once we begin to recognize that Reform's primary aim  in these
exercises is the elimination of mediating institutions and groups that
involve the state in distributional decisions, we can see why they are
indifferent to  democratic values such as, for instance, educating and
enriching citizens by  encouraging ongoing participatory processes.
Reform's lack of serious effort in  engaging voters prior to the
televotes has already been mentioned, and when asked  what ideas
he had for continued citizen involvement in finding a solution to the
problem of youth crime after Referendum '94, Ted White responded
by saying: "I  think they've done their piece on this ... I think this
process is pretty much over."68  The fact is, the Reform party simply
cannot recognize the educative value of  ongoing participation,
because this would involve a tacit endorsement of precisely  the role
that mediating groups and institutions play in a vigorous democratic
political culture. 

The reduction of democratic participation to a
series of isolated transactions  in a competitive market that uses
votes as currency also explains how the Reform  party is able to
equate "pay-per-vote" with universal suffrage. For Reform,
democratic equality extends only to an equal right to accumulate and
dispose of  one's property in the marketplace as one sees fit -- not to
equal access to political  participation regardless of means. Given this
market orientation, it should not be  surprising that Reform is so
enthusiastic about the possibility of "reducing the unit  costs of
democracy" by enfranchising only those willing to pay to participate.
When  asked if he was at all troubled by the deterrent effects of the
user-fee on participation,  MP Ted White responded by suggesting
that, "If someone is not willing to pay $1.95  to have their MP carry
out their will in Parliament, then why do I owe them any
representation."69 Those who feel strongly enough about their
opinion on a  particular issue will be willing to pay to have that
opinion heard -- special interest  groups and state agencies are little
more than a costly means of artificially  amplifying the interests of
people who do not value their opinion sufficiently to  finance its
expression on their own. In Reform's view, pay-per-vote
teledemocracy  simply allows the invisible hand of the market to
naturally muffle the voices of  those who have become too
dependent on the pilfering hand of the state. 	The ultimate payoff is
that these technologies enable the Reform party to  accomplish this
diminution of democratic public life while claiming to expand it.
Teledemocracy as practiced by Reform amounts to little more than
an elaborate  public relations performance: here we have a high-
profile vehicle for the raising of  issues pursuant to the Reform
party's overall project, under the guise of soliciting  public input and
encouraging citizen empowerment, with no danger of eliciting
responses that do anything other than vindicate Reform's previously-
established  positions on these issues. This explains why Reform
shows little concern for  encouraging genuine grassroots participation
in the formulation of agendas for their  teledemocratic exercises, and
why they see nothing inherently biased in the way they  pose their
questions to voters. Reform's selection of issues and questions is
designed  for "the construction of problems to justify solutions" to
which they are already  ideologically committed.70 This technology
makes it possible for Reform to raise  issues and manufacture
opinions which support their overall goal of shrinking the  public
sphere, using a process that itself embodies this goal, while
appearing to do  exactly the opposite. In this picture, Reform party
televotes and electronic town hall  meetings emerge as cynical,
carefully managed spectacles which, rather than  celebrating the
potential of "ordinary Canadians", show nothing but contempt for
them. 	This was made abundantly clear in the Reform party's
second national  electronic town hall meeting and televote, broadcast
from Toronto in February of  1995. Timed to capitalize on growing
public anxiety just prior to the release of the  federal budget, the
National Tax Alert was a crystalline example of how Reform is  able
to use this technology to reduce democracy to the level of spectacle
and  performance. The electronic town hall consisted of brief
responses by a panel of  experts to three questions about taxation
and deficit reduction. The panel was nearly  uniform in its general
support of the Reform position on these issues, with the sole
exception being a token remark referring to the fact that taxation
levels may be  considered too low only if considered in relation to
what is needed to service  current payments on the national debt.
Panel responses were supplemented by  alarmist "tax facts"
presented entirely without context or discussion of the possible
social repercussions of massive spending cuts, and pre-recorded,
cleverly edited  testimonials from "the streets of Canada" decrying
taxes and the cost of social  programs. Audience members prepared
to ask questions were known to organizers  in advance of the event,
and those with impromptu questions were summarily  overlooked by
the moderator. In one case, an obviously enthusiastic, but repeatedly
ignored, audience member with an unscheduled question was
approached by the  event organizers off camera and asked about the
nature of his question, the contents  of his handbag, and encouraged
to "settle down". At no time was spontaneity,  citizen-to-citizen
contact, or deep, critical consideration of the issues encouraged.  This
supposed exercise in direct democracy ended with one of the young
event  organizers slipping into a reserved seat near the platform and
asking Reform leader  Preston Manning, as if on cue, the event's final
question: " ... will lower taxes help  or hurt the average Canadian?"
Following Mr. Manning's "non-partisan" response,  the results of the
televote were announced -- approximately 95% of respondents
indicated that they felt current levels of taxation were too high, and
advocated  deficit reduction through spending cuts and a legislated
cap on tax increases -- all of  which mirror the Reform party's
previously held positions on this issue.

Conclusion 	

The evidence gathered by the Royal Commission on
Electoral Reform and  Party Financing would seem to corroborate
John Meisel's view that the current  level of interest group activity
presents a formidable challenge to the traditional  representative
role and practices of brokerage parties, and that this situation
constitutes a democratic deficit, particularly for unaffiliated Canadian
citizens. At  the core of this argument seems to be the perception of a
binary opposition between  the interests of "ordinary" Canadians and
those of people attached to one or another  organized social, political
or cultural group. It is the explosive tension inherent in  this binary
that the Reform party has taken to an extreme conclusion in its high
tech  attack on "special interests" and the "old-line" parties
supposedly held hostage by  them.

The possibility that this
binary may be a false one -- that perhaps the recent  flurry of
interest group activity is the sign of a newly invigorated democratic
discourse rather than an impoverished one -- seems to have escaped
the  consideration of those who have taken it upon themselves to
reform and resuscitate  Canadian democracy. The RCERPF was guided
by the assumption that organized  groups necessarily pursue the
narrow interests of their circumscribed constituencies  to the
exclusion of competing or general interests, and are consequently
unable to  facilitate the degree of compromise necessary in a complex
and advanced polity.  Despite an obviously genuine concern with
improving democracy, the RCERPF  failed to recognize that
contemporary social movements are keenly aware of the  importance
of inclusivity, accommodation, communication and education, and
carry out these processes to a degree that far exceeds the
accomplishments of  brokerage parties in this regard.71 Whereas
brokerage parties seem tied to an  aggregative paradigm oriented
towards conlict mediation via the bartering of  mutually acceptable
individual preferences,  social movements appear more  inclined to
invoke integrative strategies aimed at the formation of  collective
consensus through deliberation. These strategies necessarily involve
the kind of   continuous education and ongoing participation that
both traditional parties and  Reform teledemocracy either lack, or
studiously avoid.72 In their recommendation  to renovate existing
political parties so they might be more attractive to those  citizens
who are now choosing to participate through alternative
organizations, the  RCERPF implicitly devalues the contribution made
to Canadian democracy by these  groups. Unfortunately, by
overlooking the fact that social movements are currently  one of the
most democratic elements of Canadian political life, the RCERPF
missed  an opportunity to investigate and develop sites of democratic
renaissance that are  already  thriving.73 

The Reform Party, on
the other hand, is not unaware of the potential of social  movements
to contribute to a substantial democratization of Canadian political
life,  which is why they have expended so much sophisticated effort
to discredit and  marginalize them. Reform's rhetorical commitment
to populism is a veneer which  covers their fervent ideological
distaste for those who believe that democracy is  more than merely
the sum of capitalism and the periodic opportunity to vote. In  their
view, the free market distribution of private political and economic
values  must be protected against those who would seek to alleviate
the inequities of such a  system through concerted and organized
public activity. For Reform, the correlates  of the binary opposition
between "ordinary Canadians" and "special interests" are  an
opposition between "the people" and "the public" and, ultimately,
between  democracy and the market. Thus, in contrast to the RCERPF,
the concern of the  Reform party is not that social movements suffer
from too little democracy, but  rather that they  portend too much of
it. It only follows that, again differing from the  RCERPF, Reform feels
that the solution to the problem of "special interests" is less,  rather
than more, qualitative democracy.

In 1979, John Meisel felt
confident that, " ... no one is trying to eliminate  Canadian parties, or
even to reduce their importance."74By this he meant that the
decline of brokerage parties was an incidental consequence of, among
other factors,  the rise of interest groups, rather than a matter of
design. Times have certainly  changed, but it is not Canadian interest
groups who are engaged in an explicit effort  to undermine
traditional political parties. Nor is it the RCERPF, which went to great
lengths to assert its belief that parties are an indispensable
component of  representative democracy in Canada. It is the Reform
party, which sees the  retraction of not only interest groups, but also
of other organized mediating  institutions -- including political
parties -- as part of its overall goal of eliminating  those arenas and
institutions in which private choices are moderated by the
democratic consideration of public needs and priorities.  Since the
arrival of Reform,  Canadian political parties are no longer simply on
the decline -- they are, like  organized social movements and other
public "spaces", under concerted attack. 

As I have argued in
this paper, one of the chief tactics employed by Reform in  its war on
the public sphere has been the use of highly sophisticated
communications technology to engage in mock exercises of direct
democracy that  are little more than spectacles designed to raise the
party's profile as champions of  participatory populism. It is
interesting to note that electronic media were identified  by Meisel
as another primary contributor to the decline of party, and the
RCERPF  firmly rejected direct democratic mechanisms such as
referenda and recall as  solutions to Canada's democratic woes.75 The
question to be addressed is whether  Reform's special way of
employing electronic media to encourage participation is  the only
possible use for these instruments. Neither social movements nor
communications technology are going to disappear in the foreseeable
future.  Developing a more progressive, democratic configuration of
the relationship  between these two phenomena certainly seems a
worthwhile endeavour. It remains  to be seen whether such an
arrangement is possible, and who will undertake it.      

Appendix A

 Referendum '94

 June 15 - 20, 1994 -- North Vancouver, B.C.

 Question 1: Should the age be reduced to 10 for charges to be laid
under the Young  Offenders Act?

                         			      YES                              NO

Registered Voters:   		  3067 (67%)        	 1539 (33%)
Student Voters:     			     29 (66%) 	        	     15
(33%) MPs:			     		     15 (94%)
1 ( 6%) Canada Opinion Poll: 		 1508 (69%)        	   678
(31%)

Question 2: Should there be automatic transfer to adult court for
serious crimes such  as murder?

                        			      YES               	      NO

Registered Voters:	 		  4474 (97%)		   125 ( 3%)
Student Voters:			      38 (86%)	                   6 (14%)
MPs:					      16 (100%)	       0 ( 0%) Canada
Opinion Poll:  		  2105 (97%)		     73 ( 3%)

Question 3: Should there be a special category in the Young Offenders
Act for repeat  and dangerous offenders?

                          			     YES                	      NO

Registered Voters:    		4539 (99%)		     53 ( 1%)
Student Voters:	     	 	    40 (91%)     	       4 ( 9%) MPs:
				   	    15 (94%)		       1 ( 6%)
Canada Opinion Poll:  		2151 (99%)		     20 ( 1%)

 Total Registered Voters:   70 000

Appendix B

 "Canada Speaks"

Sept. 26 - Oct. 3, 1994 -- Fort Calgary, Alberta

 Question 1: Do you think the issue of national unity must be resolved
once and for  all?

   			      		     	   YES                        NO

Canada Opinion Poll (COP):                   2011 (95%)              102 ( 5%)
Control Group (CG):		            681 (84%)              131 (16%)

Question 2: Which is the best course of action for Canada?
			      		              COP                   CG

A) Complete separation of Quebec:                    873 (32%)         146
(17%) B) A special association with an 		    independent
Quebec:                   72 ( 3%)            43 ( 5%) C) Changing the federal
system 			for all of Canada:               1639 (60%)
446 (52%) D) Continuing the present federal
system:                        143 ( 5%)          221 (26%)

Question 3: Who should set the framework for Canada's future?

							COP            	    CG

A) The Canadian people through a 		    bottom-up process:
2022 (96%)         639 (81%) B) Governments and political
			    leaders:                   86 ( 4%)          151 (19%)

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 The Recline of Party:

Armchair Democracy and The Reform Party of Canada

Darin David Barney Department of Political Science University of
Toronto 

 Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the British Columbia
Political Science Association, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby,
British Columbia

 May 6, 1995.

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1 See Alan Cairns, "The Charter, Interest Groups, Executive
Federalism, and Constitutional  Reform", After Meech Lake, David E.
Smith, et. al., eds., (Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1991); Alan  Cairns,
"Political Science, Ethnicity and the Canadian Constitution",
Federalism and Political  Community, David P. Shugarman & Reg
Whitaker, eds., (Peterborough: Broadview, 1990); and  Allan Cairns &
Cynthia Williams, "Constitutionalism, Citizenship and Society in
Canada: An  Overview", Constitutionalism, Citizenship and Society in
Canada, Research Studies, Royal  Commission on the Economic Union
and Development Prospects for Canada, vol. 34, Alan Cairns  &
Cynthia Williams, eds., (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services,
1985). 2 See Canada, Citizen's Forum on Canada's Future (Spicer
Commission), Citizen's Forum on  Canada's Future: Report to the
People and Government of Canada, (Ottawa: Minister of Supply  and
Services, 1991). 3 John Meisel, "The Decline of Party", Party Politics
In Canada, 6th ed., Hugh Thorburn, ed.,  (Scarborough: Prentice-Hall,
1991). This essay appeared originally in 1979, in an earlier  edition
of this volume.  4 ibid., 178-80. 5 ibid., 179. 6 ibid., 181. 7 ibid., 198-
99. 8 Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing,
Reforming Electoral Democracy:  Final Report, vol. 1, (Ottawa:
Minister of Supply and Services, 1991), 223. 9 ibid., 224. 10 ibid.,
226. 11 ibid., 225. 12 Andre Blais & Elisabeth Gidengil, Making
Representative Democracy Work: The Views of  Canadians, Research
Studies, vol. 17, Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party
Financing, Toronto: Dundurn, 1991), 19.  13 ibid. 20. 14 RCERPF,
Reforming Electoral Democracy: Final Report, vol. 1, 227. 15 ibid.,
208.  16 ibid., 292. 17 ibid. 18 ibid., 228, 297. 19 ibid., 222. 20 ibid.,
228. 21 ibid., 222, 228. 22 ibid., 11. 23 ibid., 290-92. 24 ibid., 292. 25
Ted White, M.P. (Reform), North Vancouver. Interview conducted 22
June, 1994. 26 Ted White, interview conducted 14 June, 1994. 27
ibid. 28 Preston Manning, The New Canada, (Toronto: Macmillan,
1992), 324-25. 29 It should be noted that MT&T was involved in
each of the electronic leadership selection  exercises alluded to in
note 6 above. In its promotional material, MT&T's teledemocracy
services division markets televoting as "democracy at your
fingertips". 30 Ted White, "A Week to Go", North Shore News, 8 June,
1994. The Minister's amendments  included increases in the
maximum sentences for first and second degree murder to ten and
seven years respectively, an automatic elevation of 16 and 17-year-
old violent offenders to  adult court, and an increase in the minimum
time before youth murderers could seek parole  from five to ten
years.  31 Ted White, "Mixed Topics This Week", North Shore News, 1
June 1994. 32 Ted White, Referendum '94 (householder), May/June
1994. 33 Ted White, interview conducted 14 June, 1994. 34
Constituents who did not have access to a touch-tone phone were
encouraged to contact a 24- hour help line to make alternate
arrangements. 35 A charge of 95 cents was levied for each additional
minute a voter spent on the line. The  amount of the user fee was
calculated as follows: the telephone company charged 35 cents per
minute for use of a 1-900 line, as well as 10% of the total billing
amount as a collection fee;  the remainder of the fee was calculated
on the basis of the costs involved in administering the  referendum.
In this case, MT&T assumed a substantial portion of these costs as a
promotional  expense, thus artificially deflating the cost borne by the
voter. 36 This figure is approximate because the actual number of
respondents varied from one  question to another: 4606 responded
to Question 1; 4599 to Question 2; and 4592 to Question 3. 37 Ted
White, press release, 21 June 1994.  38 Ted White, interview
conducted 22 June, 1994. 39 Reform Party of Canada, Canada is Our
Home, (national direct advertising supplement),  October 1994.  40
ibid. 41 ibid. 42 The event was broadcast in English, with
simultaneous French translation available through  some stations.
Due to satellite specification problems, the French and English sound
signals  were temporarily reversed in a number of significant areas,
including Vancouver, Ottawa and  parts of Toronto. This may have
caused some viewers to switch the program off prematurely.  43
William Gold, "Should a Leader be Manning the Phone?", Calgary
Herald, 5 October, 1994. 44 Although organizers estimated that only
50 out of the 140 audience members present were  Reform party
members, assembled participants were characterized as "an
overwhelmingly  pro-Reform audience." See, "Technical woes plague
Reform TV" Edmonton Journal, 4 October  1994.  45 As quoted in Kim
Lunman, "TV poll backs Reform stand", Calgary Herald, 4 October
1994.   46 ibid. Similar characterizations were presented in the
Edmonton Journal, op.cit., and in Joe  Woodard, "Cross-country
feedback", British Columbia Report, 17 October, 1994, 12. A  Reform
party leaflet promoting the National Tax Alert townhall referred to
Canada Speaks and  asserted that, "Almost 10 000 Canadians took
advantage of this opportunity to voice their  opinions."  47 Although
it should be noted that a precise measurement in this regard was not
technologically  impossible. MT&T could have configured the system
to isolate the exact number of callers, but  the Reform party was
apparently uninterested in this figure.  48 See variously: Christa
Daryl Slaton, Televote: Expanding Citizen Participation in a Quantum
Age, (New York: Praeger, 1992); Iain Maclean, Democracy and the
New Technology,  (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989); and Benjamin
Barber, Strong Democracy: Participatory  Politics for a New Age,
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984). 49 For a thorough
critique of the history of the American televoting experience, see
Jeffrey  Abramson, et. al.,  The Electronic Commonwealth: The Impact
of New Media Technologies on  Democratic Politics, (New York: Basic
Books, 1988) and F. Christopher Arterton,  Teledemocracy: Can
Technology Protect Democracy? (Newbury Park: SAGE, 1987).  50
Darin David Barney, "Pushbutton Populism: The Reform Party and the
Real World of  Teledemocracy", unpublished paper to be presented at
the Annual Meeting of the Canadian  Political Science Association,
Montreal, June 1995, 10-20. 51 Following the Canada Speaks
televote, Preston Manning was quoted as saying: "These, of  course,
are responses calling in to a television program. They are not a
scientific sample." As  quoted in Susan Delancourt, "End Unity Debate,
Reform TV show told", Globe and Mail, 4 October  1994. Similar
comments were made about Referendum '94 by Ted White,
interview conducted  14 June 1994, and by the moderator of the
National Tax Alert electronic town hall, 12  February 1995.

52 Ted White, interview conducted 14 June 1994. 53 Ted White,
interview conducted 22 June 1994. 54 see "Evaluating
Teledemocracy" subsection above. 55 David Laycock, "Reforming
Canadian Democracy? Institutions and Ideology in the Reform  Party
Project", Canadian Journal of Political Science, (XXVII:2, June 1994,
213-247), 214. 56 ibid., 217. According to this definition, feminist
women's groups, aboriginal organizations,  organized labour,
multicultural and linguistic groups, directorates of crown
corporations, gays,  lesbians, students, environmentalists, public
sector workers and even the province of Quebec  are all deemed by
Reform to be "special" interests. 57 ibid., 217. 58 ibid., 219. 59 ibid.,
220. 60 ibid., 211, 230, 244. 61 ibid., 243. 62 ibid., 243. 63 ibid., 219.
64 See Christa Daryl Slaton, Televote, 184, 192; see also Richard S.
Hollander, Video  Democracy: The Vote From Home Revolution, (Mt.
Airy: Lomond, 1985), 40. 65 Michael Pollard, interview conducted 14
June 1994. 66 Ted White, interview conducted 14 June 1994. 67
Jeffrey Abramson, et.al., The Electronic Commonwealth: The Impact
of New Media  Technologies on Democratic Politics, (New York: Basic
Books, 1988), 21. 68 Ted White, interview conducted 22 June 1994.
69 Ted White, interview conducted 22 June 1994. 70 Murray
Edelman, Constructing the Political Spectacle,  (Chicago: University of
Chicago  Press, 1988), 21. 71 Alexandra Dobrowolsky & Jane Jenson,
"Reforming the Parties: Prescriptions for  Democracy", How Ottawa
Spends 1993-94: A More Democratic Canada ...? Susan D. Phillips,  ed.,
(Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1993), 66. 72  For more on the
distinction between aggregative and integrative approaches, see
Michael M.  Atkinson, "What Kind of Democracy Do Canadians Want?",
Canadian Journal of Political Science,  XXVII:4, (December 1994, 717-
745),  723-4, 737.  73  Alexandra Dobrowolsky & Jane Jenson,
"Reforming the Parties: Prescriptions for  Democracy", 45-6, 68.
74John Meisel, "The Decline of Party", 192.  75 ibid., 183-84; Royal
Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, Reforming
Electoral Democracy: Final Report, vol. 2, (Ottawa: Minister of Supply
and Services, 1991),  230-47.